I’ve been paying attention to the news lately, perhaps because I have an intense wish not to do my homework. Instead, I’m messing around with Google Reader… which is both an incredibly lazy and an incredibly interesting thing to do. And so, as a result of intensive time-wasting, I give you: things that caught my eye this morning.

First off: on my favorite page, an article about the middle child of the Middle East. No, it’s not Iran or Iraq, it’s that one that no one pays much attention to anymore… Afghanistan. Originally a Reuters article, it quotes Afghani president Hamid Karzai as saying that the Afghani people “can no longer accept civilian casualties. It is becoming a heavy burden… It has become too hard for us.” The article continues:

“Karzai said he had repeatedly told U.S. and NATO commanders to coordinate their anti-Taliban raids with his government, stop searching civilian houses and exercise caution to avoid civilian deaths. ‘Unfortunately, that cooperation and coordination as we tried it has not given us the result of what we want,’ Karzai said, adding that the Afghan people’s tolerance was being tested. ‘That is something that must be changed, must be corrected or the consequences will be bad for all of us.'”

Now, this might be just me. But it does sound a lot like Karzai is trying hard not to offend anyone. I can imagine how I’d feel if foreigners, in their attempt to stamp terrorism out of my country, refused to cooperate with my police in doing so. Especially if this resulted in civilian deaths. Does anyone else see a president balancing between the anger of his people and the poised might of an imperial power?

Next: In the Middle Eastern country we do pay attention to: Religious freedom is on the decline in Iraq (CNN)! The fact that it’s just being put on the list now says something about the destabilizing effect our presence has had there. We went in there for freedom and democracy and all that stuff, but whoops! Looks like we messed up! Sorry, guys… Better luck next time! The panel on Iraq’s (lack of) religious freedom has this to say, according to CNN:

“The Iraqi government has engaged in human rights violations through its state security forces, including arbitrary arrest, prolonged detention without due process, extrajudicial executions and systematic torture.”

Hmm. Not like some of that doesn’t sound familiar. AT ALL. And it’s a slippery, slippery slope. Let’s work on those extrajudicial executions, America. Gotta love those euphenisms.

I’m not sure what to think of this next news item. ChΓ‘vez has been being socialist again… privatizing oil companies, withdrawing membership in world trade organizations and such. He spends so much time being angry at the United States that it’s tough to know whether I’m with him or not. On the one hand, I agree with some of his ideas… the United States does not play well with others, and that’s going to be a problem in the future. As it is now, come to think of it. But as I’m not a socialist, I don’t necessarily approve of the way he deals with things. And he’s so dramatic. All his Bush-denouncing sometimes gives him the flavor of a world leader who enjoys throwing the odd fit. So Hugo ChΓ‘vez is a well of ambiguity for me.

And oh, GW. You know that whole four-years-ago “Mission Accomplished” stuff? Um… yeah. Egg on your face. And now everyone’s slamming you for rejecting the bill on the exact day of our supposed victory, four years ago. Poor Bush. According to Hillary Clinton’s blog post that day:

Never before in our history has a President said ‘mission accomplished’ when the mission had barely begun. Never before has a President landed on the deck of an aircraft carrier to proclaim the end of major combat operations to a war that rages on four years later. Never before has a President pulled a political stunt when so many American lives were and remain in harm’s way.

Democrats definitely planned this drama, but it was an effective and a poetic way to make a point. Back up your words, Mr. Bush. Sign the bill.

And for something more lighthearted, or at least less depressing: According to this International Herald Tribune article, the average United States college student is more likely to be interested in religion. According to IHT:

A survey of the spiritual lives of college students, the first of its kind, showed in 2004 that more than two-thirds of 112,000 freshmen surveyed said they prayed and that almost 80 percent believed in God.

The article also stressed a certain openness in the faith process of us young’uns, especially a willingness to go to each other’s services. Let’s call it a faith search rather than a faith journey; we don’t want to be told what we can believe or that there is one way to believe. For better or for worse (and in this girl’s opinion, for better) in this consumerized, compare-products society, religion is being put under the same scrutiny as peanut butter. And weird as it may sound, I think it’s a good thing.

And now I’ll get off my soapbox and work on some (semi-)serious journalism.


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